Elderly Houston Woman Lost All of Her Savings in a Scam

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Often scammers will prey on people’s emotions, and unfortunately, that was the case for 89-year-old Texan Erma Phillips. Phillips’s grandson, Richard Bryant, is in the process of getting his maritime degree, so when she received a phone call in which a male voice sounding upset said he had been in an accident the previous night and had injuries that didn’t allow him to speak correctly, Phillips asked if the caller if he was Bryant. The caller answered yes to the question confirming Phillips’s anxiety and thus, the scam was underway.

The scam went down like this. The caller said he was in jail and needed money for a lawyer. Phillips wired money to different locations, but the calls continued, prompting her to decide to take out a loan on her house. By then, she had already sent her life savings of $245,000 to the scammer.

The real Richard Bryant noticed something was wrong when his grandmother mentioned “his lawyers” to him, which Bryant had never had. He then took his grandmother to the bank hoping they would be able to help, but sadly, bank officials said they could do nothing.


“She has a big heart, so she was able to connect with the caller thinking it was me and basically [gave] away whatever information they were asking [for] as well as her life savings,” Bryant told WFAA with a heavy heart. “I just pray to God. That’s all I can do,” Phillips explained.